It has obviously been a very difficult week for racing with everyone still talking about ‘that photo’. Firstly, the image is awful. Gordon [Elliott] knows how big a mistake he has made and he will be punished for it later today.
I don’t want to say much as it’s an ongoing investigation but one thing I would say is that the care and attention Gordon and his team put into the horses cannot be questioned. I’ve ridden for him for years and his horses always look amazing. They are a picture of health and when you see one walking round the parade ring you can tell it’s one of Gordon’s just by looking at it. It’s a very difficult time and whatever the result I hope we can all move forward.
Looking back on last weekend at Kempton, I was really pleased with Awake At Midnight in the two and a half mile handicap chase. He’d won well at Huntingdon back in November and he really seems to have got his confidence back. He was beaten by a better horse on the day but I’m sure he’ll be winning again soon, possibly when stepping up in trip slightly now the ground is better.
The Close Brothers Chase is always very competitive and we wanted to get a good start with Mellow Ben. He got away well but unfortunately raced too keenly which meant he didn’t see out the trip as well as we had hoped. There will be plenty of big days ahead for him and you might see him drop back to two and a half miles.
Stanley Pincombe ran a lovely race in the bumper. It was a fantastic performance on his first day at school and there’s a very strong chance he’ll win a bumper in the spring before his summer holidays.
Philip’s [Hobbs] horses are in great form which is really encouraging with Cheltenham around the corner. It was nice to ride a double at Taunton on Thursday and hopefully we can find another winner or two over the weekend.
ALPHA CARINAE – 2.20pm Doncaster
I won on her at Perth back in September and she is a very likeable filly. She disappointed at Warwick last time but has been given a nice break since then and Olly’s [Murphy] horses have really bounced back to form. She’s stepping up in trip here but on ratings she should run very well.
ZOFFEE – 2.55pm Doncaster
He’s in really good order and loves decent ground, so it’s nice that it’s been drying out at Doncaster. He won well at Exeter in October on his second start over fences and he hasn’t run since November as we’ve been waiting for better ground.
He’s a lovely little horse, very enthusiastic and likes to race up with the pace. He won over hurdles at Doncaster last season and I hope he’s still improving. He’ll be fresh and well and he’s probably my best chance of a winner this weekend.
SMALL PRESENT – 4.05pm Doncaster
It’s nice to pick up a ride for Sue Smith. I don’t know too much about him but he’s been very consistent this season and deserved to get his head in front last time at Catterick. He was stepping up in trip on heavy ground that day so he clearly stays well and hopefully he’ll run a big race.
SOCKS OFF – 5.15pm Doncaster
He won an all-weather bumper at Lingfield last time so he won’t mind the decent ground. He clearly improved for his first run and should go well but he’ll need to improve again under a penalty.
There’s some very good racing at Kelso on Saturday and I think My Drogo will take all the beating in the Grade Two novices’ hurdle. I was second to him at Ascot in December and I was very impressed with him. Of all the young horses I’ve seen in Britain this year, he looks as good as any of them.